Gamesward Bound

Dear Father Philip

The time of the Games is almost upon us, so the next few weeks will be a flurry of activity as we try to ready ourselves for the games and my correspondence with you might be sporadic at best so whilst I rest and my friends seek healing I thought I would pen this letter to you.

On the first of Ra we were taking our leave of Sekti-Abtu, we had the wagon all set and Master Azariel’s horse was prancing proudly along the streets as if it knew we were being watched and were in a parade, which I guesa we sort of were, as wherever we went people would come out and clap or give us their best wishes, I think it almost brought a Tear to good Xerx’ses eye. We trundled up to the massive gates leading into the interior of Lopan, when we heard a “Make way, make way for his holiness” and we looked back, and there was Adreyn, or Ildreyn, the head of Lord U’Selekma’s household coming towards us waving his arms and puffing like a bellows, as the good fellow didn’t seem like the type to run across town much, which is what it looked like he had done. When he got up to us he said, “Thank goodness I managed to catch you before you left, My Lord the Pontiff has requested the Heroes of Light come quickly”. Adrenaline immediately kicked in as I imagined all sorts of terrible things that might have happened, but there was no smoke coming from burning buildings, no screaming or terrible creatures flying around. Xerx’ses said “Calm yourself friend and tell us what the problem is” and Ildreyen responded, ”His Holiness has requested that you come with me to see the His Lordship the Acamarch, keeper of the keys and master of the Treasury.” I looked at Xerx’ses and shrugged, we got off the wagon, handed the reins to the gate guards and told them that we would be back soon. Ildreyen looked immensely relieved that we would come with him. I started off immediately, but Xerx’ses with a bit of caution asked what it was all about, and apparently it was secret and we had to come, So come we did. We made good time to the treasury and what can I say, it is the most heavily fortified building I can remember seeing, Guards everywhere, archers peeking out of sniper alcoves, guards walking in asynchronous patterns, I really was glad I wouldn’t have to ever try to sneak into this building, and as we got close Ilderyn pulled out an Ankh and held it aloft, making sure it was visible to all. He then slowly walked through the gates as if it was a dragon’s hoard being watched by the careful eye of a hungry dragon. We eventually made it to the Acamarch himself, he was an old dignified looking elf sitting quietly at a chair reading, but as soon as he saw us he settled his attention fully upon us and smiled. He thanked us for coming and mentioned me specifically, which made a little nervous, though his smile did a lot to put me at ease. ”Welcome CrIsis, but before we continue this conversation any further we will need to go to a room with greater security”, that gave me pause, he wanted to talk about something that was so delicate that it rated more security than this. He slowly led us further into the building, until we came to another fortress inside this one. I’m not going to say much about the place except the Titan looked exceptionally competent, and the room that the Titan opened for us, gleamed like the noonday sun, for inside was piles of shiny gold, silver and gems. It took my breath away just to see it all. I’m not a greedy man but my goodness there was a lot of gold there.

Ain’t no dragon here, just gold and Lord Forenque

Master Forenque Dnng seated himself on the gold and I heard Xerx’ses cough and I would swear I heard the word Dragon, I waited a second or 2 and Xerx’ses said nothing else and Lord Forenque continued on like he hadn’t heard what Xerx’ses had said and went on and painted a bleak picture of a Holy Crusader gone bad, the specific one in fact who was supposed to carry a magic torch all around Lopan for the masses to bring them hope, and then at the end use the torch to gain entrance to were the lung of Lord Osiris is being held and steal it. The cleverness of the plan infuriated me as the Holy Crusader, Dio Regellant, was known for being a force for good, and if they could corrupt him . . .

Thankfully U’selekma and Forenque had come up with a plan to foil this dastardly plot. Lord Dio Soontobedead Regellant had to take a circuitous route around the island, visiting all the main towns, whereas we ourselves could just go directly to Lopania with the Torch itself and hand it over to the Queen. Xerx’ses asked how we would smuggle this there and Ferenqe went to the wall and pulled a torch off it, muttered some arcane sounding words (klatu, verata, unfortunately I didn’t quite get the last one, I think it was necktie or something like it) and then suddenly in his hands was the most magnificent torch I had ever seen was in his hands. Light reflected off the torch in a prismatic spray of colour blue, yellow, black green and red gems had light dancing on them merrily, and the flames upon crown of this magnificent construction the burned with a white gold gleam that almost promised victory. I then noticed, as did the others, that the torch symbol on our rings started to glow with the same colour and a warmth suffused the room.
Mighty, majestic, and radiant,
You shine brilliantly in the evening,
You brighten the day at dawn,
You stand in the heavens like the sun and the moon,
Your wonders are known both above and below,
To the greatness of the Holy Priestess of Heaven,
To you, Isis, I sing!

I noticed everyone was looking at me, apparently I had been praying out loud. Everyone paused with a moment of silence, which I then broke. Lord Forenque, would it be possible to have a fake that looks like the real golden version, our enemy is smart and might have multiple plans to counter even such a discrete mission such as this, and if we do get found and someone asks for the torch we can then happily give them the fake and continue with our mission. Lord Ferenqure replied that the Temple of Isis would indeed have what we seek. Just as Lord Forenque was about to change the torch back to its hidden form I bid him halt, and he looked at me curiously, I had seen something like that in my dreams, I went through my satchel and pulled out my silver torch that I had received so long ago as it had some similarities,

so I held out my arm, Just as my arm extended I felt a jolt of power and there was a sudden roaring of flame, The shock of it made my arm jerk back thankfully, because with just a couple of seconds the flame that had roared to life from my torch had eagerly sought an exit, and finding none had burnt its way out the inner and outer walls of this impregnable fort. The room gleamed even more as the gold and items stored here reflects the sunlight that now poured into the room from the hole I had just burnt.

I Immediately started apoligising to Lord Forenque, and he waved off my apology with a quick motion of his hand and looked at me thoughtfully and said “so you have one of those too, you will have to tell me about it”, just then the Titan on guard at the door stuck his head in and inquired about the state of things, and Forenque said everything is fine, except the hole of course, we will have to fix that.

I started stuttering my apology again, iiiit. . . It has never done that before, and Lord Forenque, in his infinite mercy said its truly ok and smiled at me. I regained my composure at that and my next set of words will probably haunt me for life, and I don’t know why I said them

“I haven’t burnt a hole in anything all day”

The others looked at me a little stunned and then started to laugh, and I joined in sheepishly, even Lord Forenque smiled, and then the smile slowly left his face, and a much more serious mien replaced it, I haven’t seen one of those in a long time, Brother Indaris, I do believe you might have a story for me, as I started to answer Azariel asked if the damage to the walls could have damaged the magic protections concealing our location. Lord Forenque seemed to think about it and said none of those wards went off, even though they should have, not that I am sorry mind you as the resultant release of energy would have killed us all, so the magic protections are still intact”. Azariel looked intrigued at this and immediately went and inspected the closest ones, and Lord Forenque did as well, and they both came to the conclusion that the wards were still intact and probably should have went off. Lord Forenque thought that it was going to bear a little investigating and mentioned so.

With a quick whisper the magnificent torch turned back into a torch that you would expect to see in, well it wouldn’t look out of place in a tavern. When he placed it in my hands I felt a warm tingle run through me. I immediately placed it in the container that he had prepared for it and I placed it in my backpack.

Lord Forenque then smiled again and said I believe you still owe me a story, and nodded to the silver torch
sitting on the ground behind me, I picked it up and passed it to him, and he murmured that it was one indeed, and I replied one what. He hefted the torch into the light so it sparked and simply said, they are an extra protection for the places holding the Relics of his Lord of Light Osiris, one of these almost held off a horde of demons by itself. I whistled in appreciation and he handed it back to me, it did in the end fail, but it wasn’t just a random bandit raid either. Overkill joined in and guessed that it was the obelisk, from which the skull was taken, and Lord Forenque smiled again and nodded and said that even though the attack seemed to be done by black ships trying to increase the power of the western navy, the attack itself had a darker purpose, but that is a story for another day, then looked back at me. If you get the chance you should ask the Guardians themselves, as they will be able to tell you more, and then he looked back at me and smiled the Story, Lord Forenque prompted as I was staring at the torch with new appreciation.

Well, I said, there isn’t really much of a story, while travelling on Rogtilda in the South, I had a holy dream vision, and when I awoke I had this and a feather. He nodded, glanced over at the hole in the ceiling and said “You should probably be on your way, and I have work to do”.

We nodded, we were escorted out again and surprisingly nobody mentioned the hole in the roof. Once there it was a quick walk over to the temple of Isis, whom were waiting for us with a magnificent golden torch, which I packed carefully into my satchel. We then left for the gates, and our wagon that we had left there. The walk back was yet again filled with people waving and following us, on the way Azariel got some doves and we continued until we made the gates, and bid civilisation adieu, even if only for a few days, as it was only going to take about a week to get to Lopania.

The day we left was a beautiful day in the middle twenties, with a nice cool breeze coming off the ocean, with the odd white puffy cloud wandering across the sky like a sheep looking for a better grazing spot.
Azariel was riding his magnificent horse, and I joined Xerx’ses on at the front, whilst the rest of us scrambled up onto the back of the wagon and made themselves comfortable, the first mile or so of road was cobbled, which would have been more helpful except for he flocks of people heading into Sekti-Abtu for the Festival of the Pantheon of Ra. Eventually we got free of the crowds and the rest of the day was relaxing, and during the afternoon Asher used his magic prowess to make a magical gem of resistance to fire, and handy item if there ever was one. We camped for the night, lamenting again the lack of a decent cook and that night Caminata took to the dark, and came back after midnight with talismans of protection from witches. The next day went peaceably enough, and it was warmer, making it to the higher 20’s, and even though it was a dirt track, it was wide and the occasional other group passed easily. The place we stopped at was nice enough, tea was ok again, which is funny considering the magical power in the group, we can slay demons and burn breakfast, all in a days work. While contemplating on how best to fight the evil waiting for us a Lopania, I was blindsided by one of the hardest to detect evils, that which we brought ourselves.

Azariel wanted to summon a Raksasha to get it to make some scrolls and things for us.

I was gobsmacked, stunned and horrified all at once. Demons and Devils are an evil that should never be brought to Palladium, as even if you are successful once or twice, they always get free, or so the stories say, and they are malevolent beings only existing to cause suffering. I could understand maybe summoning one if we had no other choice, but to summon one just for scrolls that we could get from other resources, including one we had just left was yet again stunning. I tried convincing them that it was wrong, and against the law, but I didn’t know that for sure, but evil begets evil. This would be something that we paid for, either now or later, the argument for it was that the ends justified the means, especially as the risk was low, but my knowledge of demons told me that if Azariel failed to gain control over it, Xerx’ses or I could banish it, but banish also only had a chance of working, so we were going to try and summon corruptors of souls for our own ends, believing that they couldn’t corrupt/trick or overpower us, and that our protections against it would be enough. That is pretty much how every story about the evil summoner getting eaten by his pet demon and it then killing everyone in the area starts.

The worst thing was we can’t guarantee that it won’t escape, as it could break out of Azariel’s magic bindings, throw off the power of mine and Xerx’ses banishing’s and either attack us or leave, and even If that didn’t happen they have the power to dimensional teleport to places they have been, and could just wait a day after we left and eat everyone in the area, and It was just our hope of them not wanting to do that to stop them from actually doing that that they thought was enough.

Whats the worst that this thing could do ? He certainly looks friendly enough to never come back to play with his food without permission from a person

It came down to a vote, an actual vote sullied my soul, I have now worked with the forces of Ultimate evil, it might not have been fully willingly, but I should have done what my instincts said to do and stopped it and walked away, even if the gods had punished me with death I would still go to the afterworld with my soul clean, now, unless the gods intervene, since we have broken laws that should not be broken will I be destined for hell. I could have stopped it, I know Oathbringer has taken down a Defiler, it could do the same to a member of Crisis, and even if they didn’t know it I would be doing them a favour, as they would die without this blemish on their souls, but no, the gods had given us a great mission, and if this travesty was going to be stopped it would have to be stopped by the gods. May the Gods forgive us all.

The votes started, obviously Azariel said yes, and I wasn’t much surprised when Asher said yes, as their race is a violent one and they think of these things a little differently, then the surprises started, Xerx’ses said yes, his race was a violent one but he was the one I looked to as the moral compass of the party, If a party member was going to do evil he normally would have made his displeasure known. I pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t in some sort of nightmare, he said that he trusted Azariel in what he was doing, even if he didn’t like it, Overkill agreed with Xerx’ses, and Caminata looked very uncomfortable, and sort mumbled yes, but then straight afterwards showed her distaste of the idea by leaving the area. I looked around at my friends and thought to myself, how could we have strayed so far, I was here to help lead them back to holiness, but here we are, taking the express elevator to hell. It might be stopping a few times on the way so the destination wasn’t immediately apparent buts that’s where it is was destined.

I voted no, the only one of us voted not to dally with demons. I know as much about demons as does Azariel, but I haven’t been tainted by actually learning to summon them and they trusted the person who had never wanted to do this before, but now suddenly did. We could now no longer say to people to lead yourself to the light do as we do now, Xerx’ses and Asher had managed to drag themselves up out of the viciousness of their races to become paragons of their kind, showing that even the darker races can see the light, Overkill had given up his Pirating ways and Azariel had buried this aspect deep inside him. I thought about it for a bit, he had recently been to the Empire of Sin to learn about diabolism, something over there must have awoken his dark side, as he never even mentioned the idea of summoning a demon before he left that I can remember, and he hasn’t talked about being taken by the agent, maybe that is what broke the barriers he had put up.
Not that it mattered, the sacrifice of a few doves and 15 minutes setup and he was ready to go, I grabbed Oathbringer and the 3 Sisters of Dawn, Xerx’ses, Overkill and Asher readied themselves as well.

It was quicker than I expected, Azariel chanted, no that is too long a time, he muttered some world shaking words, that more sprung into existence rather that rolling of his tongue, and then 30 seconds later a portal ripped open and a demon stepped through, just like that, I raised the three sisters, Azariel looked as if he was concentrating terribly and the demon roared out its frustration, and I could only agree with it, I raised my weapon and Azariel banished it, for it wasn’t magical enough to do the scrolls. 3 times we repeated this process on the way to Winterfrost, 3 times we tried to damn our souls. The last demon summoning was a bit of a heartstopper as it looked as if it was getting away, but that was just Xerx’ses banishment taking hold, and Azariel still managed to banish it with the magics that come with summoning. The bandits and other travails on the road paled in comparison to what we were doing (even though there was a group of Adram, weird fairy like beings the are proud as peacocks and ugly, real ugly, but if you are nice to them they leave you alone, they took an extreme shine to Xerx’saes and Overkill, mostly from Overkills and Xerx’ses compliments and decided that we were worthy of their interest and jumped into the wagon, Asher said that they would be tasty so one of them grabbed him and he magically threw it off the cart, I made one seasick and the sight of us, and what had happened to them seemed to break their morale because they fled). Before Azariel managed to get the demon he wanted we stopped off at Winterfrost, a small town on the way, that may or may not had dwarven roots, we gathered supplies and some long hooded cloaks because I thought it was best for us to sneak in as the Agent had had months to plan his campaign here waiting for us, and everywhere else we have gone solid walls and good magic protections haven’t been enough to stop the Agent, so every tavern and resting place supplied to us by either of the companies will have been compromised by spies at best, or a death trap at worst. I even bought a load full of vegies for the wagon to help with our disguise, and while a couple of the others were out looking around I made some sketches and we headed off again.

Then a day out of Lopania Azariel managed to summon a Raksasha, and started commanding it to do the scrolls he wanted it to, and as expected the demon made it as hard as possible, until I mentioned to Oathbringer about slaying a Demon, that was a mistake as the next three days were her asking, complaining, whining and commanding me to kill it, what’s worse I agreed with her. Once the commands had been given it was down to us to pick the scrolls we wanted, we had put our immortal souls in peril by dealing with the Devil, and Azariel didn’t have a clear idea of what he wanted from it and that we could help choose, which was thoughtful of him I guess, except that he was asking a Priest of Light to ask for things made by an enslaved Demon, I didn’t answer at first but then mumbled off some random ones. Since we had gone this far and hadn’t been punished maybe a scroll of resurrect that would work might make all this worth it.

On the 8th of Ra we rolled into the outskirts of Lopania, and there were all sorts of people milling about, we even saw some of the High Elves from Phi walking about looking graceful and beautiful, drawing the eye of most all around them. Its was a bit funny to watch, men would adjust their belts and shirts, and women would check their hair and brush invisible (and sometimes not so invisible) specks of dust off their dresses.
The place was already crowded and this was outside of the town proper, but luckily we found an empty spot to setup our tent on the main road close to the main entrance from this road and setup wagon to display our wares. Next to us was an Ogre doing Tattoo’s, and on the other side some sort of healer. Azariel introduced himself to the Ogre, and managed to get himself into some sort of mercantile agreement with the Ogre involving Tattoo’s, so I thought I’d check out the healer next door. She happened to be a very beautiful healer that used a strange and ancient magic, thanks to Caminata who gave me a friendly nip on the leg I even got to see it used close at hand, and she tried her hardest to get me alone at some Tavern for dinner that night in town, and didn’t seem happy that I wasn’t real enthusiastic about it. I agreed to go to dinner, maybe Azariel would be able to discreetly enchant her to see and hear what she says while I distract her at the dinner table, because as far as it goes, I’m not the most handsome of fellows, not even close, and she seemed pretty keen to get me alone.

We agreed to a time and I left, and went back to the camp, and mentioned what had happened. Asher and Overkill had went into town to get some gems for more fire resistance gems and maybe see the lay of the land.

Over the afternoon I started feeling unwell, and when the Druid checked my leg it was blackening where the healer had “healed” me, and Xerx’ses determined that there was definitely a magical component to my ailment, luckily Caminata drew out a small Holy Relic and touched it to me, and the sickness that was clouding my mind cleared, and as I write this Xerx’ses is preparing himself to go over and give some payback, Loyal friend that he is, but maybe our best bet would be try to show her the error of her ways and convert her to the light. Turning one of the Agents spies would be preferable to killing her at the moment as we might be able to find out from her how she contacts the agent, because I’m sure that he is here on Lopan as we speak. This would be too complicated a venture to leave to underlings. I am looking forward to sticking something sharp and pointy into his eyes. Preferably Oathbringer, but a fork would do in a pinch.

P.S. If you can think of any scripture or stories that I can tell my friends to show how dangerous the waters we are sailing in it would be much appreciated, I don’t think they understand that if we weren’t Crisis and this was the Southern Lands I would be hunting us down to bring us to Divine Justice for our transgressions

Written on the afternoon 8th of RA by Indaris Excellar
and yes the leg hurts. Nasty bit of magic that.

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